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New name, and high-tech plan, for St. Louis-area race track

By Jim Salter

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A track outside St. Louis that hosts IndyCar, NASCAR and NHRA events is getting not only a new name, but a promise to become a proving ground for tech innovations aimed at enhancing the fan experience.

Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, will be renamed World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. Terms of the naming rights agreement announced Wednesday were not disclosed.

Suburban St. Louis-based World Wide Technology has some 5,000 employees. Founder and chairman David Steward said he envisions using the partnership to develop innovative experiences for fans.

“To be able to create a platform that’s innovative and different that incorporates technology you couldn’t incorporate before is an interesting and unique opportunity,” Steward said.

One example he suggested was finding a way to be able to allow fans at a race to see up-close what happens during a pit stop.

“If you could not go down to the pits but you could put on some goggles and be able to experience that, like you’re actually there — guess what? That enhances the fan experience dramatically,” said Steward, who believes that sort of technology is in the near future.

A tech issue dogging some sports venues, including tracks, is more mundane — a lack of connectivity for cellphone users.

“Maybe have something hover over the stadium to improve connectivity,” Steward said.

Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s managing director of racing operations and international development, said the stock car series aims “more and more each and every day to be more of a technology-driven sport, and to have partners like World Wide Technology involved adds more credibility to that point.”

World Wide Technology has been involved in racing for some time. It is the official technology and analytics partner of Richard Petty Motorsports and the primary sponsor of Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team.

•••

NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE TO POSSIBLE GEN-7 CAR TECH ELEMENTS

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race will feature two technical elements that could be incorporated into the Gen-7 car set for 2021.

NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway announced the technical specifications and format Wednesday for the May 18 exhibition race at the North Carolina track.

The technical elements are a single-piece carbon fiber splitter/pan and a radiator duct that exits through the hood instead of the engine compartment. NASCAR said the splitter/pan will “provide a more stable aero platform and create more consistent performance in traffic.” The radiator duct will “create improved aerodynamic parity and, at the same time, reduce engine temperatures.”

The race will again have four stages, with a five-lap increase in the final stage from last year. The stages will be 30, 20, 20 and 15 laps. Both green- and yellow-flag laps will count in Stages 1-3, with only green-flag laps counting in the final stage.

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